This Ballard bar, less well-known than its critically acclaimed older sibling next door, made the cut for Esquire's list of best bars in America.
These lists, of course, are always subjective. Heck, many locals don’t know about Barnacle.
To those who haven’t been, Barnacle is Renee Erickson’s den that opened in 2013 in Ballard. Locals treated it as a waiting area for the crowded The Walrus and the Carpenter next door. But over time, it has become a solid bar with its own identity, known for its tightly-focused amaro menu. A good date place.
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The folks at Esquire found it revelatory. Esquire praised Erickson’s crew for making a windowless space feel “like you’re on a very mod Mediterranean holiday.” The men’s magazine praised its “deep, smart wine list” and said the cocktails are “often herbaceous, usually amaro-heavy, uniformly delicious, a little challenging, and just right for this jaunty secret clubhouse.”
Agree or disagree? Like with sports or politics, you can debate it, over a drink at a bar. Maybe even at Barnacle.
(Update on May 26 at 10: 50 a.m.)
“Ding” went my inbox yesterday evening with a note from Esquire’s Food and Drinks editor Jeff Gordinier who saw the above post and wanted to weigh in.
On the comment that Canon and Zig Zag Café didn’t make Esquire’s cut for Best Bars in America, the Esquire editor mentioned that both bars made the cut in past editions. “It operates on a Hall of Fame model, meaning that once a bar is in, it’s in for life, and we don’t include it again.”
Gordinier also spoke of his “genuine fondness” for Barnacle and defended picking that Ballard bar as one of the best bars in America.
“I have so much respect for Renee Erickson and I love that the bar puts a strong focus on Italian spirits, primarily amaro….that made it stand out,” he emailed me.